There are several reasons that Christians doubt God’s love. Number one, Christians doubt God’s love because of their feelings. Meaning, “I am having a hard day today, it does not feel like God loves me today. Therefore, God must not love me. Or maybe he has forgotten about me.” Have you ever felt like God was overlooking you, or that He did not love you in moments like that? Our world values feelings over truth and opinions over facts. Often that error bleeds into the Christian life and we began to value feelings over truth and opinions over facts.
Number 2 reason Christians doubt God’s love is circumstances. We live in a soft society that lives in and worships ease. We want comfort, convenience, and a microwave life. Therefore if we don’t get what we want right now then my circumstances seem to be telling me that God does not love me. If spiritual growth is slow and the circumstance that is frustrating you is the slowness of spiritual growth, frustration comes and so do questions about God’s love. Does God love me when my life is not going well? The Enemy whispers and the flesh agrees “Maybe God is angry with me?! Maybe he is done with me?!”
The third reason we doubt God’s love is community. Who are you surrounding yourself with? We know, if we want to be faithful to God’s word, we must have non-believers in our lives. But they are not our family. We need Christian brothers and sisters to gather around who will remind us of the truth. Unfortunately, often we find ourselves around believers who do not remind us of the truth. Rather, they bring condemnation by their lack of gospel understanding. If you surround yourself with a community of believers that tell you your life is all about you and your sovereignty, your love, and your Independence, things will go badly. Communities that focus on self-love are communities that unintentionally invite and welcome doubt about God’s love.
The fourth reason we doubt God’s love is the Enemy and our Flesh. The Enemy knows, that the person who feels unloved is a person who is in a desperate state. Those two things typically go together. Since God has been so kind to us and has lavished his love upon us, it is foundational to the Enemy to attack central truths about the Christian. The Enemy shoots his arrows at places that are so central to us, the heart itself, that we would begin to doubt God’s love. The flesh rises and agrees with the Enemy when those arrows are shot.
So what do we do and where do we go when we feel unloved? This is not a gender-specific struggle. This struggle is for men and women, boys and girls. When we are in a place of doubt and the sand is shifting under our feet, is there a firm foundation, is there an anchor, a ballast, a lighthouse? Is there a place that is unmovable and unshakable that we remind ourselves about? When we are in that low place, is there something we can scream ourselves toward to remind us of the truth? Where can we go? Where is the foundation? We need a fixed point!
At any given point in our life, we have a stable place to look. We have solid ground to stand on. We have a lighthouse to bring us home. We have a place to tether our hearts to and our very lives to. I want us to look to that very thing today. We don’t have to complain or question if God is speaking to us about his love. He is speaking at this very moment. I want you to remember this passage here today and never forget it. By God’s grace, if this is a text we remember for the rest of our lives, the next time we are in a place of doubt, we can go back to that foundation. We can take our eyes and fix them on another place than our feelings or circumstances. So where do we turn, where do we go, to whom will we look?
We have been walking through the book of Romans, and we have dealt with the doctrine of justification. The Supreme court of the entire universe has dropped his gavel, and we have been declared forgiven and counted righteous by grace through faith and not by works of the law. What now? Now that we know we are justified, what else do we need to know for our life in Christ?
“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”
Starting in verse 6. The work of God in our lives is not based on our strength. That is a really good thing for us to remember. God’s work in our life is not based on our strength. Are you not thankful for that? There are times in our life when we feel bulletproof. And there are times that we feel so weak it takes everything we’ve got to make it through the day. If our salvation today is based on one of those tow circumstances, me feeling bulletproof or me feeling weak. I will never have a firm place to stand. But if God is doing something in your life regardless of you being weak or strong then there is hope! And that is what we are told!
“At the right time, Christ died for the ungodly.” God’s power is not predicated upon human strength. The text says the right time for Christ to come for us was not when we were strong and when we were righteous. The right time for Christ to come for you, what while you were still weak. While we were ungodly, that was the right time for Christ to come. God knows what he is doing and the right time for Christ to come and rescue sinners was not after waiting for sinners to clean themselves up. Yet so often people buy the lie and think “For me to get God’s attention, I gotta do some stuff first.” After all, doesn’t God help those who help themselves? The lie so many believe is that if a person will simply make a few steps to God, then God will take a few steps to them. But what we are called to know today, is that when we were weak and ungodly, God did not wait for us to become strong and Godly. We did not prepare ourselves or give ourselves ready for him. He saved us in spite of ourselves. What the church in Rome needed to be reminded of is what we need to be reminded of. That the work of Christ is not based on God responding to human readiness or choices. God did not wait for you. He came for you at the right time.
What we see right here, destroys any ideas of a karma based system of living. The “What goes around, comes around” ideas that permeate so much of religious ideas today weasels it’s way into Christianity. Many Christians live as if we can scratch God’s back to get him to scratch ours. Our if I will just give my all then I can get him to do for me what I want him too. Our passage today destroys such notions.
Our text also destroys any ideas of synergism. Synergism is a doctrine about salvation that says that for you to be a Christian it requires God’s work and your work. Or at least human cooperation. That is not what the Bible teaches. The Bible teaches that God did not wait for you to do a single thing. Not a single thing. While we were weak and ungodly, God acted. Our salvation was monergistic. It was the act of God alone that saved you and me. This obliterates the idea that we must first reach out to God. Jesus was not sent to us when we were reaching out, but when we were too weak to reach out and to ungodly to reach out. It was not sinners who called out for Christ to come, but God who sent Jesus for sinners. Sinners killed the Rescuer.
Now let’s think through the rationale of all this. We will see how otherworldly it is and how much better it is than anything we could conceive. As we look in verse 7, we are told “Fore one will scarcely die for a righteous person- though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die.” Now if we were to come up with something that would make more sense. Something that would be understandable. Something that would fit the way our mind works. That is where theology can go wrong. What verse 7 is telling us is the one could imagine a scenario that a person would perhaps die for a good person. It would make some sense if that were to happen. The quality of life could be appealed to. Look how much good that person is doing in the world. Just watch how loving that person is. For a righteous person, someone would dare to die.
Now when we think of the atonement, the way we get all messed up. And the way the Enemy wants us to think is that we did somehow present ourselves in a way that the atonement would make sense. That would explain “This is why God came!” Because I was living righteously. Jesus came to die for me because I was living godly. And after all, I was worth it! When we think that way, we view the atonement as saying something good about ourselves. And if we are wonderful, then perhaps God would do this for us. We could sit back and say “You know, that does kind of make sense.” After all, we can understand a person in this world giving their life for their son or their friends, but not for a scoundrel.
But here is what is so nonsensical in our minds. If we never get the nonsense of this, we will never get the supernatural sense of this. Here is what God did for you at the right time. “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Sometimes we just blow through verses that we are familiar with. When we do, we miss what is there and we don’t look and ask “God help me see this.” Friends, this statement is astounding. There are so many treasures for you in this verse.
Contrast something that would perhaps make sense with this. Contrast someone may be dying for a righteous person with the love of God. What is God’s love like? “God shows his love for us.” Notice that God’s love is present tense. Let me just ask you this. When did Jesus die for you? Today or two thousand years ago? It was two thousand years ago. So it is a past event. But how does God show his love for us today? His present tense love today love is here for us now. This is our anchor, this is our ballast, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” That is the place for weary hearts and confused souls to run. The cross of Christ! This is where his firm and fixed love for you is found. The cross is where we see God loving us and holding onto us!
That means that right now, as you look at your watch, on this date and time, God is showing you his love at the Cross of Christ. No matter what feelings you are dealing with or what circumstances are crashing over you. Fix your eyes to the very love of God. For he is showing you his love right now! The Enemy will shoot his arrows, and your flesh may agree with him. But they are all lies if they are not telling you that God loves you! Look up to that hill to Jesus!
So where will we go when we feel unloved? Into greater and greater despair and pessimism? Into a community of people who will say “Yeah that’s tough. What are you doing wrong?’ Or will we get people around us who will remind us of the good news? We need people who will say “The cross happened! And God is declaring his love for you right now!”
Why is this so amazing? Because when we were at our worst, when you were in the gutter, when you were doing the worst sins of your life, when you deserved it the least, when we deserved to pay for our sins, it did not cause God to run away from you. It is amazing. Jesus runs toward sinners. That is how God shows he loves you! The cross is God’s central love language. You may cry out “But that’s not the way I want to be loved! I want him to show me his love in other ways. I want him to answer this prayer. I want him to make this circumstance change. I want him to provide me with this thing or that.” Well, I am sorry, you don’t get to dictate the love language of God. We don’t get to stomp and say “God if you loved me, you would show me in another way.” We don’t get to make our demands as if the cross was not enough. The cross is the greatest love imaginable. All other loves pale in comparison.
What about the gifts God gives. Are they not a display of God’s love? He gives them daily. Let me plead with you to not run to his gifts for affirmation of his love. Because there are going to be seasons that those good gifts that our heavenly Father gives seem to stop. There will be times we are tempted to doubt God’s love because of what seems like a lack of blessing. Would could wonder, “If he angry with me? Maybe he does not love me anymore?” The Enemy will come and say “Yeah, God has forgotten you. He does not love you anymore.”
That is why I want you to remember Romans 5:8 for the rest of your life. I don’t want you to ever forget about the cross of Christ. For it is the Cross of Christ that declares forevermore God’s mighty love for us! When we spiritually looked like a Lord of the Rings Orc Jesus died for us. If that is true, there are some staggering consequences.
Now, what doe the love do for us? How does it affect my life? Well, it changes everything! “Since, therefore, we have been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.” So if it is true that we have been justified by his blood. Then what are the results?
Well first, notice that Jesus blood was effective. This is kind of a sidebar note, but important none the less. We are justified by his blood and not by our choices. Jesus blood we effective for what and who it was intended for. Jesus blood came out with names on it. If you are in Christ, the reason you are in Christ is because he bleed names. He died in your place. If he died in your place then you will be saved and you will not experience the wrath of God. That is our hope, that Jesus actually died for people. Not simply that Jesus died generally for everyone, which he did. But our hope is that he died as a substitution for his bride. Specifically, Jesus died for names. For his bride, the church, you. The reason you are a Christian is that God loved you first. God’s love is not impotent, it is powerful to save.
So the line of thought is, if we have been justified by his blood then something more is going to happen. If we have been justified then much more shall we be saved from his wrath and saved by his life? Let’s consider these two things. Number one we’re saved from his wrath. If we’ve been justified by his blood then the following is true. Nothing that comes our way is because of God’s wrath. If you’re a believer in Christ nothing in your life, no circumstance, no difficulty, no disease, no anything can’t come our way because of God’s wrath. Nothing comes our way because of God’s wrath because we are saved from his wrath. That’s what the text says. “If we had been justified by his blood much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.” Hard times are not a sign of his absence. Everything that comes your way, is wrapped and baptized in God’s love for you. There is nothing that comes your way that is void of God’s love for you. Nothing the enemy comes and tries to destroy. The choices we make that are even sinful. God has a way in his sovereignty to bring about our good. And you may say “How could that possibly be for my good.” I don’t know. But the bible says nothing that comes our way is from the wrath of God and that everything that comes our way according to Romans 8:28 is for our good. Everything. In life’s sorrows, there are treasures of the love of God there because it’s not God’s wrath. It’s not his anger. God’s love is upon us, not his wrath. The interpretation of our lives and the events and they have to be interpreted through the lenses of the cross.
Therefore, nothing that comes our way that’s disconnected or dislodged from the love of God and attached to the wrath of God. And if we don’t know that will interpret things all wrongly and we’ll think that our circumstances are not for our good. We will think “God is angry with me. He doesn’t love me.” But if we understand this text, then when my circumstances are bad, we can know that God still loves us. Things are hard. But here’s one thing I know for certain no matter how hard it gets. I know that God loves me. I know that I am his and he is mine. I know that he is my Heavenly Father. I know that any disciplinary action that comes down from his hand is not from his anger but from his tender love. I know that no matter where I am or what I’m doing or what sorrow I’m going through or what Joy I’m experiencing God loves me God’s wrath is not upon me. We’re safe from his wrath.
Now, this is a distinct privilege of the Christian. To the non-Christian, God is angry with you and his wrath is upon you. It doesn’t mean the God does not love you. But the privilege of knowing God’s wrath has been removed is reserved for God’s people. It is a privilege of the redeemed. And if you don’t know Jesus, if you have not been born again, you cannot say in the same way as a believer that God loves you. Yes, he loves you, John 3:16 comes to mind. But you cannot say with the Christian that God’s wrath is removed from you. The Christian can boldly say, God’s wrath is removed from me as far as the east is from the west. It’s not coming for me. Friends, I want you to know that today. If you don’t know Jesus I want you too. I want you to repent of your sins. I want you to say “God I’m sorry for living my life the way I want to live my life and for doing things the way I want to do.” I want you to trust in Jesus this morning and if, by the grace of God, you do that you can walk out of these doors sure that God’s wrath is away from you because of what Jesus did for you.
As if all that was not enough, the Apostle goes on. Much more if these things are true if God showed his love for you that while you were still sinners Christ died for you, and if we’ve been justified by his blood, therefore much more you’ll be saved by his very life. Jesus life is the reason that you were saved and Jesus life is the reason you will be saved tomorrow. Your life is not the reason you were saved, your life is not the reason you’re saved tomorrow. If you’ve been justified the reason you’re saved today is that “Much more shall we be saved by his life.” Consider the question, “Why are you saved? By your strength and endurance. Or by Jesus strength and endurance?” Jesus lived a perfect life obeying his heavenly father every moment even to the point of death and beloved that’s what you’re counted as doing. You’re counted as a person who will live your life obediently to your last breath. You’re counted as one who will live to the glory of your heavenly Father for every moment the rest of your life. You were saved by his life, not by your future life. You were saved by Jesus past life and where Jesus is right now, the right hand of the father, is where you are, at the right hand of the Father.
Assurance of salvation is so crucial. Only Christianity has this. When we think about “why am I a Christian and how do I know I’m gonna be a Christian tomorrow?” we look to Christ. Because Jesus reigns, because Jesus lived for me, because he died for me, I know my hope for tomorrow is not in me. My hope for tomorrow is in him! I shall be saved by his life! Now, I want to use biblical language here. I don’t like the phrase “Once saved always saved.” I just don’t like it because it gives the impression that you can pray a prayer and call it “being saved” and then live the way you want to live the rest of your life. And that’s not what the Bible teaches. If you’re born again your new creature. The old is gone the new has come. It didn’t happen through natural choices or decisions it is supernatural. As Paul Washer said, “You can’t get hit with a truck and stay the same. If you go outside and get hit by a truck you’re going to be physically altered.” Jesus is this holy truck and if you get run over by him you’re going to be changed. You can’t stay the same. But if you are in Christ this. You’re saved by his life. Friends his life is beautiful and it’s unchangeable it was perfect he never sinned. That is our assurance. His very life is our eternal security. If you’re in Christ, your salvation is in the life of Christ not in your life. That’s why your eternity is secure. Because you’re not saved by your life you’re saved by his life. I know God loves me and as surely I can say that I can say I will be saved by his life. I have been saved and I will be saved because it’s not based on me. Our salvation is based on the life of another and we are assured of it.
Now all this otherworldly alien crazy talk. If you’re thinking in natural lenses you don’t have spiritual eyes to see this is crazy talk. “You don’t tell people they’re assured of their salvation before they’re dead. They have to have motivation. They have to earn it. They’ve got to want it for when they’re dead. You don’t tell them this otherworldly nonsense.” See the grace of God is so counter-intuitive to the way that we think we know the world is changed. “You want to change people tell them that it’s up to them. The rest of their life they’ll get to work!” Christian growth is different. It’s not based on earning it’s based on gratitude. If we see these things with eyes wide open, and the Holy Spirit opens our \spiritual eyelids and brings this down into our heart we will be changed. If, finally, the grace of God doesn’t go in one ear and out the other with a gentle nod following. Explosions of gratitude and joy will follow.
Consider this. When I’m stuck, I’ve been trying so hard to obey and my sanctification is so slow. I know that I’m not saved by my life, I’m saved by Jesus. When we’re happy. We were going along and life is great. We can say “Jesus you’re even better than this moment.” We don’t need to feel sorry about being happy. We should be happy. If you’re happy take that happiness and realize that’s a shadow of the happiness we are going to experience for all eternity.
Then look at this, verse eleven “More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ” Rejoice! Sometimes people make a distinction between happiness and joy. I get what people are saying but biblically happiness and joy are the same things. What Paul is saying, is if we understand all that he is talking about we will rejoice in God. How do we rejoice in God? Well, we are told, “through our Lord Jesus Christ through whom we have now received reconciliation.”
Our salvation should produce in us great thoughts about God not great thoughts about ourselves. It should produce worship of God. It should not produce narcissism. When we look to the cross we should never think “Wow I am awesome.” We should immediately be thinking “Oh my, Jesus is wonderful. He is awesome.” He is the one we stand in awe of. God was not standing in awe of us. When we consider all that God has done for us it should free us from great and marvelous thoughts about ourselves and make us worshipers of God! “God, you’re amazing that you would save me! God, you are awesome! It was you who loved me when I was unlovable. When I was unlovely you, counted me as lovely.”Your salvation should produce the worship of God. That’s God’s intention for saving you, making you a worshiper.
Have you ever had moments in congregational worship when you’re singing to God and explosions of joy go off inside of you? That’s God’s intention in saving you. Worshipers of God are happy. He is to make you into an eternal thankful person with eternal happiness. And that is the recipe! God’s Grace to our joy. When you know you’re saved by his life and not by your life, joy happens because worship happens. Think about such things. When you hear somebody say “Boy the cross just shows you how worthy you are. “After throw up. Say to that brother or sister “I’m glad you’re thinking about the cross but you’re mistaken, because the cross shows us how glorious and worthy Jesus is! The Cross shows me how gross my sin was and it shows me how astounding God’s love is!” It’s the self-help world wants you to think otherwise. It wants to strip the cross of its power and tell you the cross is about you. Make no mistake! The cross is for you but it’s not about you. People who think the cross is about them can’t rejoice. They just become greater and greater self-worshipers. “Look how great I am. That God would do this for me. I’m awesome.” And I don’t want you to be like that. There’s no joy there, with that version of the cross. But if we see the grace of God if we see this otherworldly good news and when we hear that and understand that Jesus is worthy and it’s by him and by his life I’m saved. Well then, I’m certain of God’s love for me right now no matter what’s going on around me. You’re a bulletproof person if you’re certain God loves you right now, no matter what.
This changes everything. If you will a million dollars, hey that’s great! You can celebrate it right because you are not counting on circumstances to tell you about God’s love. You can experience blessing in the right sort of way seeing it as a gift from God but not as a primary demonstration of his love for us. We’re not hanging our hope on things going well for us. We can thank God for being so kind as to give us the money we needed or that job we needed but we are not counting on those things to prove God’s love for us.
God is so kind. When we think about things, gratitude should rise within us. This is the key to the Christian life and Christian growth. To the Christian life gratitude to praise is the path to life in the full. When you’re weary when things are hard when you’re complaining to God again. And even this morning as you hear me ranting and raving and whooping and hollering and dancing all over the stage here, even when you hear these truths and explosions and joy of gratitude don’t rise out of you, even when you sit here unmoved and you’re a child of God, you’re still saved by Jesus life not your own. You may say “Well I just don’t feel the things that other people are feeling and when they sing they’re singing when they think about God’s grace. The tears flow but not for me.” If you’re a Christian. God’s grace and your salvation are not predicated upon the flowing of tears. Maybe this morning you say “I just can’t shake this darkness in my soul” God still loves you! He doesn’t love you only if you have joy in him. Even if you feel no joy and feel abandoned. Well, Jesus is stronger than all that. He’s bigger than all that! He’s bigger than you and your feelings. Beloved, you’re held by the mighty hand of God and he has you right now. He’s stronger than our feelings. He is stronger than our circumstances. He’s near you and you are loved. He will never abandon you. Just all the more reasons to praise him. Just all the more reasons to move from gratitude to praise joy in life in full.